BATON ROUGE - LSU women's basketball and the Southeastern Conference's 13 other member schools are joining together this week to support "We Back Pat" Week, an initiative focused on bringing awareness and recognition to the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation, and its fight against Alzheimer's disease.
Lady Tiger head coach Nikki Caldwell spent six years as an assistant coach and played for the legendary former Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt. The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund was launched on Nov. 27, 2011 by Pat Summitt after her diagnosis of early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type at the age of 59.
In her 11 seasons with Summitt as a collegiate player, graduate assistant and assistant coach at Tennessee, Caldwell was a part of 344 wins, 11 NCAA Tournament appearances and three national championships.
"We all back Pat 100 percent," said Caldwell. "She's a warrior for coming out and bringing awareness to the disease. We want to make sure we do our part at LSU as well in helping out in any way we can. She's a special person who's not only had an impact on my life but the lives of so many women who have played this game for years."
Caldwell and her staff wore specially designed "We Back Pat" shirts on the bench Sunday and will do so in LSU's home game this Sunday against Vanderbilt. The Lady Tiger team wore the shirts in pre-game warm-ups and on the bench.
In a videotaped statement shown during the announcement of the Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, Pat Summitt said, "Tyler and I have decided to join this battle, not just for us, but also for the millions of families affected by this disease. I have always told our players, our greatest opportunities are disguised as our greatest obstacles. It is time to treat this obstacle as an opportunity and a stepping stone to a cure."
The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund will make grants to nonprofits which provide:
- Education and awareness of Alzheimer's, its onset and treatment
- Support services to patients, their families and caregivers
- Research to treat, prevent, cure, and ultimately eradicate this disease
To donate to The Pat Summitt Foundation Fund, visit www.patsummitt.org, or text COACH to 50555 to join and donate $10 (Msg.& Data rates may apply).